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China car imports plunge 22.1% YoY in H1 ahead of tariff change

Monika From Gasgoo| August 08 , 2018 19:59 BJT

China H1 car imports, China car import tariff reduction, Lexus China sales, China-U.S. trade tension

Shanghai (Gasgoo)- China's car import volume in the first half of 2018 apparently dropped 22.1% year on year to around 452,000 units. Especially, the automobile imports in June tumbled 87.1% to 15,000 units, according to the China Automobile Dealers Association (CADA).

Besides, China also saw its imported vehicle sales slump 21.2% over the previous year to around 63,000 units in June and fall 9.8% to some 394,000 units for the first six months.

Wang Cun, director of the import car committee at the CADA, said that such decline was historically rare and attributed the imports plunge to the latest tariff policy change in China. China's authority announced on May 22 that it would slash import tariffs for imported vehicles and auto parts to 15% from 25%, and the policy has taken into effect on July 1. Therefore, potential imported car buyers chose to hoard their money until the tariff drops indeed. Meanwhile, importers were slowing the pace of importing cars so as to gain higher profits after July.

However, as Chinese government has imposed an additional 25% import tariff to vehicles made in the U.S. from July 6 amidst the escalating China-U.S. trade tension, certain U.S. car brands or the brands which have vehicles assembled in the U.S., witnessed their June sales grow a bit over the previous month prior to the tariff rise.   

As to specific segments, the import volume of the car, SUV and MPV accounted for 43.4%, 53.2% and 3.4% respectively of the national PV import totals last month. Although the SUV enjoyed a higher proportion than the car segment in June imports, it suffered year-on-year decline of 29.1% and 17.3% in both monthly imports and sales, which were higher than that of the car.

The top 3 brands by Jan-to-June imports were Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus. Among of them, only Lexus achieved a positive growth of 9% over the year-ago period. The imports of the three brands aggregated around 213,000 units in the first half of the year, accounting for 47.1% of China's total car imports during the same period.

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